Glen Tanar timber donated to Portsoy Boat Shed

19th July 2017

Collaboration and support for the community are important aspects of the way Glen Tanar's Michael and Claire Bruce do business and whilst on a recent trip to the north coast of Scotland an exciting opportunity arose.

By Michael Bruce

 "In April, Claire and I were invited to a fundraising event for the Portsoy Boat Festival. The next day Roger Goodyear, Co-Chairman of the event, gave us a tour of the fantastic new hostel, the converted “Sail Loft” heritage building, and introduced us to Keith Muir the Manager of the Boat Shed. The Boat Shed is a charity that works with disadvantaged children to build and restore boats. Their major restoration project at the moment (all they had left were bits of the wooden keel) is the re-building of "Sea Spray",  a traditional in-shore sail fishing boat.

the boat shed portsoy
The restoration project

I discussed the re-building project with Keith and he said he was short of larch boards for decking planks and that he had had tremendous problems sourcing larch…..I offered to help and said it was easy……(well not quite so easy). For a start Keith wanted what to him was a lot of larch, but what to us and the rest of the forest industry was a very small amount.

Glen Tanar Donation
Michael and Keith discussing the quantity of larch required

To rewind the story…….When I first came back to Glen Tanar in the mid-1980’s we still carefully selected and supplied top quality “boatskin larch”. A product that attracted the highest prices and was supplied to Buckie and other traditional boatbuilding yards that used larch as a ships timber. Sadly these yards have closed down.

Most of my family summer holidays were in wooden trawler style boats from Buckie's Herd and Mackensie shipyard, in which my father and skipper Hamish Flett from Orkney sailed us all over the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney Islands and across to Norway and Sweden.

Kytra 1
Kytra - a wooden hulled boat that was made in Buckie and used on many Bruce family holidays.

Rolling forwards…..This year the timber that was used in the Aboyne Schools Project in May was some windblown larch. As I knew we were going to have the larch and the mill on-site I was able to offer the Portsoy Boat Shed the sizes they needed. In fact I was able to supply far more than they needed and the surplus is going to be donated to the boat-building department of Banff Academy.

mobile sawmill glen tanar
Mobile sawmill at Glen Tanar

Once the wood was cut to size, stickered, stacked and strapped, James Jones and Sons kindly offered to kiln dry the pack for free. I knew that Jones’s wouldn’t take anything less than a pack, so that is what I’d asked the mobile mill to cut, even though I knew it was more than the Boat Shed wanted but the sawmills in Scotland have moved on a long way since the 1980’s and now generally only supply lorry-sized loads!

The timber seems to be of reasonable quality and the Boat Shed should get what they need out of the pack. The donation also helps Portsoy move forwards again after a significant flood damaged the Sail Loft and other places in June."

Glen Tanar Timber
Michael Bruce (right) delivering the timber to Keith Muir (left) at the Boat Shed.